Where has the month gone? I barely blinked and suddenly it is June! In April I set myself a challenge of reading a book every other day and whilst I didn’t do too badly, I didn’t do too good either. As is always the way, life kind of just got in the way.
In total I read 11 books over the course of May, which included two graphic novels.
Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier (Time Warner Books) – 5/5
Light-hearted, high-spirited and fun – this book is very different from Du Maurier’s most famous novel, Rebecca. I raced through this in a day and was captivated by the wonderful, mischievous Lady Dona St. Columb. Full of humour and action, Du Maurier paints such a vivid, vibrant scene that I was instantly transported to Navron House and the Cornish creek. The ending managed to surprise me too, as only Du Maurier could do – she executes the twists in her stories so well. This is the best book by Daphne Du Maurier that I’ve read so far.
One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun, translated by Jung Yewon (Tilted Axis Press) – 3/5
This is a piece of translated Korean fiction, which I received in the March Moth Box (the service is run by Mercedes of Mercy’s Bookish Musings – her channel on YouTube is great). Set in a slum electronics market in central Seoul, a tentative relationship between Eungyo and Mujae forms and during this period we hear about people’s shadows rising above them, particularly when stress or depression creeps in. As the future of the market is threatened, the novel explores the economic downturn in Seoul as well as the effect it has on the lower-classes. It is full of fantasy, magical realism and lyricism, and whilst I’m not a fan of this style, I know other readers have praised these elements. Sadly, the ending also let it down for me, as it felt open-ended and inconclusive.
The Search by Howard Linskey (Penguin UK) – 4/5
Set in Durham and centred around the case of missing Susan Verity, The Search is told from multiple perspectives – which I’m a huge fan of – as Detective Ian Bradshaw teams up with investigative journalists Helen Norton and Tom Carney to solve the 20-year-old, re-opened mystery. You can read my full post from the blog tour here.
Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs (Jonathan Cape) – 5/5
From the creator of The Snowman, Raymond Briggs, Ethel and Ernest is a heart-warming graphic novel that follows the life of his parents. There are loads of great, UK-specific historical and political references throughout, which show the impact both Labour and Conservative governments had on the country over time. All-in-all it is such a great cosy story, although it did make me blub at the end! If you read this and don’t find the end sad then you must have a heart made of ice.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton) – 4/5
Set in an alternate reality that could be a not too distant future, Exit West is a exploration of the current refugee crisis taking place in the world, where people can flee civil war by stepping through black doors into a promising future. It tells the tale of Nadia and Saeed’s relationship, after they meet in a country on the brink of a savage war. I highly recommend this if you’re looking for a book to make you think about the turmoil the world is currently going through.
When The Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs (Penguin) – 3/5I didn’t intend to read two graphic novels this month, but almost as soon as I’d reserved this at the library I received a call saying it was ready to be collected. Reading this was a different experience to Ethel and Ernest and whilst the art style is similar it definitely felt more experimental, with stark double-page spreads of a singular image. The story is macabre and sombre as the threat of nuclear war looms and consequently the affect this has on a couple. Briggs has a way of getting under your skin and into your brain.
The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon (Headline) – 4/5
After reading quite a few heavy books I wanted to finish the month on something a bit cheerier. The Wrong Knickers is a hilarious, eye-opening and chaotic read which follows acclaimed journalist, Byrony Gordon, through her twenties. It had me laughing and cringing throughout. I wish I saved this for reading on a beach whilst on holiday.
The last four books I read were all nominated for the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction – I wanted to get through all of the shortlist, which I almost managed to do! Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get around to reading The Sport of Kings and as it was a chunky one I thought I’d give it a miss. The mini-reviews can be read in my Baileys wrap-up here.
Did you read anything good in May? Do you have any recommendations for books that should be on my radar?